Art History from a painter’s perspective. Every episode examines the life and work of one painter. Exploring both the paintings these artists make, as well as the world which they inhabited.
Art and Humor: Episode 15 of the Painting Podcast
6/19/2023In this episode, we will explore the fascinating intersections of art and humor. Join us as we delve into the captivating parallels between crafting a joke and the processes of creating and experiencing a painting. Discover how the art of comedy intertwines with visual expression, unveiling the shared elements that make both mediums uniquely captivating.
From Leonardo da Vinci to Hudson Hawk: Episode 14 of The Painting Podcast
6/15/2023What does da Vinci have to do with "Hudson Hawk"? Join us as we unravel the peculiar charm of this action-comedy film starring Bruce Willis and compare and contrast the work of Leonoardo Davinci with the Film. We examine how "Hudson Hawk" stands as a curious blend of humor, action, and campiness, gathering a dedicated fan base despite its initial critical reception. And also investigate the parallels this film has to the life work of Leonardo Da Vinci
Nostalgia: Episode 13 of The Painting Podcast
6/10/2023Nostalgia, is a bittersweet sentiment that has the power to transport us to moments long gone, has been a subject of fascination and interpretation for artists throughout history.Ah, nostalgia, a complex and captivating emotion that can evoke both positive and negative experiences. Let's delve into the duality of nostalgia and explore why it can be both good and bad.On one hand, nostalgia can be a source of comfort and joy. It transports us back to cherished memories, reminding us of the moments, people, and places that shaped our lives. It allows us to reconnect with our past selves and experience the warmth of familiarity. Nostalgia can provide a sense of stability and security, especially in times of uncertainty or change. It offers solace by creating a bridge between our present and the memories that hold deep emotional significance.Nostalgia has the power to uplift our spirits, evoke laughter, and foster a sense of belonging. It brings people together, as shared nostalgia can create bonds and foster a sense of community. Through nostalgia, we revisit cultural touchstones, childhood experiences, and even historical events, strengthening our collective identity and fostering a sense of continuity across generations.However, it's important to acknowledge that nostalgia can also have its pitfalls. It can be deceptive, painting an idealized and romanticized version of the past. Nostalgia often glosses over the hardships, struggles, and flaws that were an inherent part of those bygone times. This idealization can distort our perception of reality, leading us to yearn for an imagined past that may not have actually existed.This is how Nostalgia can trap us in the past, hindering personal growth and preventing us from fully engaging with the present. It can create a longing for a time that is gone, preventing us from embracing new experiences and opportunities. By fixating on the past, we risk missing out on the beauty and potential that lies in the present moment. Embracing nostalgia with a balanced perspective allows us to draw upon the positive aspects of our past while embracing the possibilities of the present and future. By integrating nostalgic moments into our lives, we can find inspiration, gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, and strengthen our connections with others.Nostalgia often arises from a desire to reconnect with cherished memories, places, or experiences, reflecting our innate yearning for familiarity and comfort. In the realm of art, nostalgia can be both a powerful tool and a double-edged sword, capable of eliciting a range of emotions and interpretations.Think of paintings that depict idyllic landscapes, evoking the serenity of the countryside or the charm of small-town life. Or consider photographs capturing candid moments of pure joy and laughter, freezing in time the fleeting nature of happiness. These artworks can transport us, if only momentarily, to a place of comfort, reminding us of the beauty and simplicity that once enveloped our lives.However, things aren’t always so easy are they?. As mentioned previously, It can also have a darker side, blurring the lines between reality and idealized versions of the past. This can lead to seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses and a nostalgia that romanticizes or distorts history, sometimes even erasing uncomfortable truths. It can trap us in an endless loop of yearning for a time that may never have truly existed, hindering our ability to fully engage with the present and move forward.This approach to nostalgia has the potential to stagnate creativity and perpetuate a longing for a past that can never be recaptured. Artists must navigate this terrain delicately, being mindful of both the seductive allure and the potential pitfalls of nostalgic themes. One must strike a balance between honoring the past and embracing the present. it is a delicate dance, one that requires introspection, critical examination, and an understanding of the complexities inherent in human experience.Through art, we often must confront nostalgia. Lets take a look at how Picassos work relates to ideas surrounding the concept of nostalgia. Picasso made work from his own experiences and personal connections. He was known to draw inspiration from his childhood memories, his relationships, and even historical events. In Picasso's masterpiece "Guernica," created in response to the bombing of a Spanish town during the Spanish Civil War, captures the horrors of war and the deep sense of collective pain and loss. While not explicitly nostalgic, "Guernica" elicits emotions of sadness and reflection, reminding us of the devastating impact of past events.Picasso's "Guernica" should not be considered a nostalgic piece because its purpose transcends the sentimental longing for a bygone era. Instead, the painting serves as a poignant and visceral depiction of the horrors of war and the suffering inflicted upon innocent lives. "Guernica" captures the anguish, chaos, and brutality of the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, standing as a powerful anti-war statement. It confronts the viewer with stark imagery, distorted forms, and haunting symbolism, challenging the romanticization of the past and forcing us to confront the harsh realities of violence and oppression. Picasso's intention was not to romanticize or idealize the subject matter but rather to expose the stark reality and convey a powerful anti-war message. By invoking shock, outrage, and contemplation, "Guernica" urges us to confront the harsh truths of war and serves as a catalyst for empathy, reflection, and social change. It stands as a testament to Picasso's ability to harness the power of art to provoke thought and address profound societal issues, making it a far cry from sentimental art that merely aims to evoke nostalgic emotions.It’s important to note, that nostalgia and sentimentality are closely intertwined, as they both tap into our emotions and memories, evoking a longing for the past. Nostalgia often leads to sentimentality, a sentimental attachment to specific memories, objects, or experiences associated with that past. Sentimentality can be seen as a heightened emotional response triggered by nostalgia, imbuing those memories with a sense of sentimental value and significance. Both nostalgia and sentimentality can transport us to a sentimental state of mind, where we embrace the sentimental aspects of our past, cherishing the emotional connections and sentimental attachments that come with it. However, while nostalgia can be a genuine reflection of fondness and connection to the past, sentimentality can sometimes veer into a sentimental idealization, blurring the lines between reality and an idealized version of the past.Nostalgia, with its tendency to romanticize the past and yearn for a simpler time, can be manipulated by authoritarian regimes to fuel nationalist sentiments and justify oppressive ideologies. By invoking a nostalgic longing for a mythologized past, fascist movements can exploit the sentimental attachment people have to a particular identity, culture, or idealized version of their nation. The manipulation of nostalgia and sentimentality can create a fertile ground for the propagation of exclusionary and discriminatory ideologies, as it taps into the emotions and desires of individuals who feel disoriented by rapid societal changes. By promising a return to a glorified past, these movements manipulate and distort nostalgia, using sentimentality as a tool to manipulate public opinion and garner support for their authoritarian agendas.So how does this relate to painting? Well, sentimentality and nostalgia are two lenses that paintings can be viewed through. However what is, and what isn’t nostalgic or sentimental is often not so clear. Lets take a look at one artist who is often thought of as very sentimental and nostalgic, and that’s Thomas Kincaide. Kinkade's meticulously crafted landscapes, bathed in soft, glowing light, evoke a sense of warmth and tranquility. His idyllic scenes, often featuring charming cottages, cozy streets, and pristine natural settings, transport us to an idealized world, tapping into our longing for simplicity and harmony. Through his use of vibrant colors, meticulous details, and an emphasis on nostalgic settings, Kinkade's paintings embrace sentimentality by appealing to our emotions and desire for a romanticized past. However, it is essential to critically analyze these works and consider the tension between the allure of sentimentality and the potential for its manipulation. By engaging in visual analysis of Kinkade's paintings, we can unravel the complexities of sentimentality in art, questioning its authenticity and its role in shaping our perceptions of nostalgia and the world we inhabit.To contrast we can look at Picasso's exploration of sentimentality, which can most notably be seen in his Blue Period, a phase in which he predominantly used cool blue tones and depicted melancholic subjects. Paintings like "La Vie" and "The Old Guitarist" evoke a sense of vulnerability, isolation, and introspection, touching on the human condition and the fleeting nature of time. It is worth emphasizing that this phase of Picasso's career also coincided with a period of personal loss and introspection. The suicide of his close friend, Carlos Casagemas, profoundly impacted Picasso, driving him to explore themes of melancholy and sorrow. The Blue Period paintings, characterized by a predominantly blue color palette, captured the emotional weight of Picasso's grief and the wider human condition. Through poignant depictions of impoverished individuals, beggars, and isolated figures, Picasso conveyed a profound sense of empathy and compassion. These artworks emanated a sentimental quality, inviting viewers to contemplate the fragility of existence and the depths of human suffering. Picasso's ability to channel his personal grief and translate it into profound artistic expressions exemplifies the power of sentimentality as a catalyst for introspection and connection with others.Critics argue that Thomas Kinkade's use of sentimentality in his artworks veers into the territory of kitsch and commercialism, ultimately diminishing the integrity and artistic depth of his work. Kinkade's idyllic and picturesque scenes often present an idealized vision of the world, portraying an excessively sentimental and saccharine version of reality. This aesthetic approach, while resonating with a wide audience, can be seen as pandering to popular taste and pandering to consumer desires for a nostalgic and comforting escape from the complexities of contemporary life. By perpetuating a formulaic and highly commercialized style, Kinkade's work has been accused of lacking artistic substance and originality, relying heavily on the appeal of sentimentality to drive sales rather than offering critical engagement or deeper introspection. Furthermore, the overly polished and perfect nature of his compositions can be viewed as a deliberate avoidance of the complexities and challenges inherent in the human experience. In this sense, critics argue that Kinkade's use of sentimentality falls short of the transformative potential of art and instead caters to a superficial and mass-market sentimentality that ultimately hinders the exploration of more nuanced and thought-provoking themes. Kinkade's art, while successful commercially, often presented an idealized, sentimental version of reality that avoided confronted the contemporary world. While Kinkade's art may provide comfort and nostalgia, there’s not much more underneath the surface than that. But this brings up another question, and that is whether or not artists are obligated to take on these sort of issues within their artwork. The work of Claude Monet provides another example of an artist grappling with challenging themes during times of war. Monet continued to paint throughout periods of conflict, including the Franco-Prussian War and World War I. Despite the tumultuous backdrop of these wars, Monet's focus remained on capturing the fleeting beauty of nature and the effects of light on his subjects. His iconic series, such as "Water Lilies" and "Rouen Cathedral," offer a juxtaposition to the grim realities of war. While some may view Monet's dedication to his artistic vision as an escape from the harshness of the world, others argue that his commitment to portraying moments of serenity and natural beauty in the face of conflict is an act of defiance against the darkness of war. As we compare the artistic approaches of Picasso, Kinkade, and Monet, we observe how each artist navigated challenging themes.These differing approaches demonstrate the diverse ways in which artists respond to the complexities of their times. While some choose to confront and challenge difficult themes head-on, others offer solace and inspiration through alternative perspectives. We also have our own personal biases, for instance I don’t mind Bob Ross’s paintings. The fact that he was a Vietnam War Vet , and had a pet squirrel told me a lot about him as a character and someone whose authenticity transcended the kitschyness of his works. This is not the case with Kincaide, who is seen more as a grifter in many respects. I still think a biopic of Thomas Kincaide directed by Tim Burton would be amazing but that’s another topic. When comparing the work of Kincaide and Ross we get into the blurry line of what is and isn’t kitsch. This is also directly related to the distinction between what is considered "real art" and what is deemed kitsch or mass-produced. This differentiation often revolves around questions of artistic intent, originality, and depth of meaning. The perception of "real art" tends to be associated with works that challenge established norms. These artworks often provoke intellectual and emotional responses, pushing boundaries and inviting critical engagement. On the other hand, kitsch and mass-produced work can lack depth, rely on formulaic approaches, and be commercialized by its very nature. Another way in which nostalgia can manifest in an artist's work is through their approach to the works of those who came before them. Which with painting, goes back a long way. Picasso, for instance loved the work of Diego Velázquez, El Greco, and Francisco Goya. He drew inspiration from their work, studying their techniques and styles, particularly during his formative years. These influences played a significant role in shaping Picasso's artistic development and driving his ambition to challenge the conventional boundaries of representation. Well, that and the fact that he was an extremely accomplished painter by 14. However, the question arises: Can the act of drawing inspiration from the works of past artists be considered "nostalgic"? I would argue that it should not be viewed as such. While Picasso acknowledged and learned from the artistic legacies of those who came before him, he reinterpreted their techniques and subject matters in a revolutionary manner. Therefore, rather than mere nostalgia, Picasso's engagement with the works of the past exemplifies a dynamic and transformative artistic dialogue. And this transcends the boundaries of what is considered to be nostalgia.However, delving deeper into the matter, if an artist today were to paint in a manner reminiscent of Picasso, it could indeed be seen as nostalgic. In such a case, the work would lack innovation and fail to incorporate contemporary changes in the discourse and approach to painting. This is not to suggest that all art must be revolutionary; however, if one imitates the style and approach of an artist from a century ago, it becomes essential to contextualize how it relates to the present artistic landscape. While paying homage to past masters can be a valid artistic pursuit, it is crucial to explore new perspectives, concepts, and techniques that reflect the zeitgeist and contemporary artistic sensibilities. By doing so, artists can maintain a connection with the past while contributing to the ongoing evolution of art and avoiding a stagnant, purely nostalgic approach.I hope you've enjoyed this journey through the diverse artistic approaches of Thomas Kincaide, Picasso, and Monet, each offering unique perspectives on painting. As you embark on your own creative endeavors, it is essential to reflect on how you incorporate themes of nostalgia and confront the reasons behind their inclusion. It is not inherently wrong to draw inspiration from the past or shield oneself from engaging with contemporary events, but as artists, it is crucial to be aware of the power of nostalgia and sentimentality in artwork and how they are employed. When guiding my students, I often encourage them to define their subject matter and themes, which serves as a starting point to explore a breadth of different artists and deepen the conceptual underpinnings of their work. For instance, depicting figures in interiors may seem like a familiar subject matter, but such paintings can still resonate and forge profound connections with viewers. By acknowledging the potential impact of nostalgia and sentimentality, artists can navigate their creative choices more consciously, fostering meaningful artistic experiences that transcend mere nostalgia.Nostalgia is a tool in an artists tool belt. There’s nothing wrong with using it, just be aware of why you’re doing so, and the potential pitfalls that come along with it.
Pierre Bonnard: Episode 12 of The Painting Podcast
6/6/2023In this episode, we delved into the captivating world of Pierre Bonnard, an influential artist whose work had a profound impact on the art world. We explored Bonnard's unique style, which blended elements of impressionism, post-impressionism, and Japanese prints, creating a visual language that was uniquely his own.We examined how Bonnard used color in emotive ways, infusing his paintings with a sense of vibrancy and energy. We discussed his association with the Nabis group and their shared interest in exploring the emotional power of color. We also explored how Bonnard's use of color and composition was influenced by his personal relationships, particularly his intimate and ongoing portrayal of his wife, Marthe, in his paintings.Drawing connections to other art movements of the time, we discussed the rise of impressionism and Bonnard's place within it. We explored his relationship with fellow artists such as Degas and his role in bridging the gap between impressionism and the emerging fauvist movement.Throughout the episode, we analyzed specific paintings by Bonnard, discussing their themes, techniques, and the emotions they evoke. We explored his use of light, his intimate domestic scenes, and his ability to capture fleeting moments of everyday life with a sense of warmth and intimacy.